Iron Wasteland

Following the accidental launch of every nuclear weapon on Earth after a computer virus crippled the world's systems, humanity has been decimated. With enough warning for people to enter special shelters throughout the world, the human race managed to endure.
For a hundred years the human race remained in the bunkers, until, when it was deemed safe enough to leave, they left them, reading to rebuild the human race. But in a radiation-filled world, dangers await around every crumbling corner.

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3. Chapter 2: Wanderer

The wanderer was an interesting looking gentleman – if gentlemen could be said to exist any more – wearing a large, brown, cowboy-style hat and long brown coat – probably leather. A gun was slung over one shoulder with a bag on the other, and he had a cigarette – a rare sight – in his mouth, unlit.

‘What town is this?’ he asked in a deep voice.

‘Welcome to Haven,’ said the “mayor”, stepping forward. ‘May I know your name?’

‘Haven, is it? Well, I’ve been all over the ruins of this country, and this is the first “Haven” I’ve been to. I was at “Redemption” not long ago. Heard of that place?’ The wanderer paced in front of the crowd, meeting eyes with everyone.

‘What do you want?’ the mayor pressed.

‘Before I went there, I was at this place called “Hope”. It had been raided. Not by wanderers. We don’t do that. It’s them raiders. Last I saw, there were some headed here,’ the wanderer continued.

The mayor strutted up to the wanderer and stood directly in front on him, staring up at his eyes. ‘Who are you, and what do you want?’

‘I’m John Smith,’ the wanderer replied, tipping his hat. ‘And I want to help you deal with these raiders.’

‘John Smith, eh?’ the mayor inquired, unconvinced.

‘Leave him alone, mayor!’ someone from the crowd snapped.

‘He wants to help!’

‘He may have valuable items to trade!’

The mayor sighed, frustrated, and walked away from the crowd.

‘Welcome, John Smith,’ the townsfolk said, moving to greet him and shake his hand.

Daniel waited for the crowd to part before going to see the wanderer. When he reached him, Sniff set to smelling the wanderer’s clothing.

‘Friendly fella, isn’t he,’ Smith commented. ‘I haven’t seen a dog – especially not such a healthy one – for a long time.’

Daniel smiled. ‘We’ve lived here since it was built and we managed to get enough food for Sniff from the rations we could spare.’

‘Sniff?’ Smith laughed.

Daniel shrugged. ‘Yeah, well…he’s always sniffing things.’

Smith laughed again. ‘What’s your name, lad?’

‘Daniel.’

Smith nodded. ‘I knew a boy called Daniel who lived in Hope. Poor lad was either killed in the attack or kidnapped by the raiders?’

‘Kidnapped?’ Daniel asked, shocked.

‘Yeah. I’m not sure why. Maybe they’re trying to expand their gene pool, or they’re cannibals, or they use them like slaves, I don’t know. But they snatch ‘em up and take ‘em,’ Smith replied. He smiled at Daniel’s frightened face. ‘Is there a bar around here?’

Daniel swallowed and forced a smile. ‘Yeah. Just down the hill and to the right,’ he replied, pointing back down the way he had come.

‘Excellent! Thank you, Daniel,’ Smith exclaimed, clapping his hand on Daniel’s shoulder as he headed down to the bar.

Daniel watched him go and smiled. ‘I wonder what things he’s seen,’ he said, glancing down at Sniff. ‘Probably terrifying and amazing things.’

Sniff whined and then looked from Daniel to the retreating figure of Smith.

‘What?’

Sniff kept watching Smith, and Daniel became curious. What had caught Sniff’s attention?

Interested in finding out more about this mysterious wanderer, Daniel headed down to the bar to see if he could find out anything more about Smith.

With Sniff in tow he crept round the bar, passing the town’s well – the town had been built around it when uncontaminated water was found – and moving down beside the bar.

It was an open-front bar, so Daniel could hide around the corner without being seen and still hear everything that was said.

Daniel held Sniff close by grabbing the makeshift, worn collar.

‘What have you got to trade for a drink?’ the barkeep – a man by the name of Kendrick – asked.

There was a faint rustling in a bag, and Daniel peeked around the corner to see Smith remove a plastic bottle from his bag.

Inside the bottle was a clear liquid, and Daniel could just make out a label.

Spring Water.

‘We have a well here, buddy,’ said Kendrick, unimpressed. ‘Your water isn’t as valuable as you think.’

Smith chuckled. ‘Ah, but this is spring water from before the fallout. Even cleaner than what you have.’

Daniel saw Kendrick lean forward. ‘You’d trade water for a drink?’

Smith raised an eyebrow. ‘Hm. Good point.’ He returned the bottle to his bag and rummaged around a moment longer. After a second her brought out a pair of glass bottles. ‘How about these? You can use them for your drinks.’

Kendrick inspected the bottles, and pointed at a raised area of the surface. ‘What’s this? Co…coca…co…cola…’ He leaned back. ‘Sounds familiar.’

‘It was a drinks company before the fallout, I think. Should be useful,’ Smith replied.

‘Alright, I’ll take ‘em,’ said Kendrick, grabbing the bottles. ‘So. What’s yer poison?’

Smith replied. ‘Well, what do you have?’

‘Matching the value of those bottles…well, we got a bit of brandy left, some lager, and…’ Kendrick had a quick look around. ‘Ah, yes. Of course. Vodka.’

‘Hm. Brandy it is,’ said Smith, smiling.

Kendrick picked up a slightly dirty glass, gave it a quick rub down and then filled it halfway with brandy.

‘Thank you,’ said Smith, taking a sip. ‘Damn this is good,’ he exclaimed with a gasp.

‘Been a while since you had some alcohol?’ Kendrick inquired.

Smith sat forward. ‘You have no idea.’

His curiosity taking over, Daniel emerged from around the corner.

‘Can you tell me about your journeys?’ he asked.

Smith smiled. ‘Pull up a seat. I’d love to.’

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